July 27, 2007
Contact: WDFW Region 5 Office (360) 696-6211
Salmon fishing opens Aug. 1 on Columbia River
under new rules to conserve wild tules
OLYMPIA – Salmon fishing opens Aug. 1 on a large section of the Columbia River, where several new regulations will be in effect to conserve wild chinook runs that are falling short of federal recovery goals.
Those wild chinook, sometimes known as “tules,” are early-returning fish that spawn in tributaries to the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.
In April, at the direction of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), fishery managers from Washington and Oregon adopted additional conservation measures to protect tule runs listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
New recreational fishing rules in effect this year:
- Require anglers to release any chinook salmon they catch in the popular Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River from Aug. 1-21 and from Sept. 4-30.
- Prohibit retention of chinook salmon from Sept. 5-30 from the lower end of Bachelor Island (just upstream from the mouth of the Lewis River) to a projected line between Tongue Point and Rocky Point near Astoria.
- Establish sanctuaries in the lower Cowlitz and Lewis river where chinook retention will be prohibited from Sept. 5-30. In addition, the entire Coweeman River will be closed to all fishing in September and October to protect spawning tule chinook salmon.
In all rivers except the Coweeman, anglers will be able to catch and retain hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead without interruption during the fall season.
The new rules to protect tule chinook salmon were established by Washington and Oregon fishery managers during the annual North of Falcon season-setting process, said Bill Tweit, Columbia River policy leader for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Those measures also included smaller catch quotas in the ocean fishery and new limitations on commercial fishing in the lower Columbia River.
All new regulations affecting recreational fishing are reflected in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations) and at fishing-license vendors throughout the state, he said.
“Most anglers who fish the Columbia River Basin have known about these new rules for some time,” Tweit said. “But these regulations to increase protection for tule runs are a change from previous years, and we want to make sure everyone is aware of them.”
A federal recovery plan released by NMFS in 2006 sets goals for tule returns to the Coweeman, Lewis and Grays rivers totaling nearly 8,000 spawners per year. In recent years, less than a thousand tules have returned to those three rivers combined.
“The new rules are specifically designed to reduce the harvest of the lower Columbia River tules, while maximizing fishing opportunities for harvestable hatchery fish, upriver brights and other abundant salmon and steelhead stocks,” Tweit said.
Below is a summary of fishing seasons opening Aug. 1 in the Columbia River Basin:
- North Jetty – Salmon fishing opens seven days per week when the Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) or Buoy 10 areas are open for salmon. Barbed hooks are allowed. The daily limit and minimum size restrictions follow the most liberal regulations of either of these areas.
- Buoy 10 – Salmon fishing opens from the Buoy 10 to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line through Dec. 31. The daily limit is two salmon. As part of that limit, one adult chinook may be retained per day from Aug. 22 to Sept. 3 and from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Anglers must release all sockeye, chum or wild coho.
- Lower Columbia River – Salmon fishing opens from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam. The daily limit will be six fish, including no more than two adults – only one of which may be an adult chinook. Any chinook, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained. Anglers must release wild coho, sockeye and chum. Anglers will also be required to release all chinook Sept. 5-30 downstream from a line from a boundary marker on the lower end of Bachelor Island across to the Warrior Rock Lighthouse.
- Bonneville Dam to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco – Anglers may retain six salmon, of which no more than two can be adults. Any chinook, fin-clipped or not, may be retained. Anglers must release any wild coho they encounter from Bonneville Dam to Hood River Bridge and any chum intercepted downstream from The Dalles Dam. Night closure and non-buoyant lure restrictions will be in effect in the Bonneville Pool through Oct. 15.
- Columbia Tribuaries – Anglers will be able to retain chinook salmon, adipose clipped or unclipped, on the Deep, Green, Toutle (including North Fork), Washougal, Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, (including North Fork), Wind, White Salmon and Klickitat rivers plus Drano Lake. Wild coho must be released on all these tributaries except for the Klickitat. Non-buoyant lure restrictions will be in effect on the Wind, White Salmon, Klickitat rivers and Drano Lake.
Bonus daily limits will be in effect for hatchery adult coho on the Lower Cowlitz, Deep, Green, Kalama, Lewis (including North Fork), and Toutle (including North Fork) rivers. All salmon other than chinook or coho must be released on the lower Cowlitz. Camas Slough will be open when adjacent mainstem Columbia or Washougal rivers are open to fishing for salmon. The daily limit follows the most liberal regulation of either area.
For additional information, see WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online at .